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Every now and again, some outspoken fan of Japanese animation, distraught over what he sees as a decline in quality among the art form’s offerings, will hold up the shining example of some new title that shows promise, billing it as “the show that will save anime.” But if this tweet is to be believed, it’s too late. Anime is already dead, as proven by a mysterious, Ghibli-like carcass that washed up on the beach.

Some of you may recall the incident in the summer of 2013 when the body of a gigantic, roughly four-meter (13.1-foot) animal was found on the beach in Villaricos, Spain. Due to its serpent-like form, some initially thought it might have been a dead and decomposing oarfish. Other experts, however, later said it was a shark skeleton.

But what else was happening around that time? Let’s place the creature’s August discovery into a timeline with other events to try to suss out its true identity.

On September 6, 2013, anime legend Hayao Miyazaki held a press conference to formalize his retirement from making animated theatrical features. The director had announced his decision a few days earlier, on September 1.

Given the close-knit nature of the production team at Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli, it’s likely that his coworkers and close professional contacts knew he would be stepping down at least a few weeks before Miyazaki spoke to the media about his choice to do so. Going back two weeks puts us as August 15, the date the creature was discovered in Spain.

Whether intentionally or not, Miyazaki has, for decades, been the life force behind Studio Ghibli. So once those closest to him knew he wouldn’t be working his magic with the studio anymore, perhaps some of them felt their own vitality slipping, including one of his more memorable characters.

So just which Ghibli figure was that lying spent on the beach in Spain?

“I’m praying this wasn’t Haku,” says Japanese Twitter user Mahime. With two years having passed since the incident, the body has long since been removed from the beach, so we’re not sure if it can now be confirmed whether or not this really was Spirited Away’s shapeshifting dragon, but we certainly share Mahime’s hope that it wasn’t.

And while we’re on the subject of Ghibli stars, if you’re reading this, Totoro, please give us a call and let us know you’re OK.

Sources: Twitter, Live Science
Top image: Twitter (edited by RocketNews24)